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Thread: Leak at joint on rough in valve. HELP!

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Toddjb's Avatar
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    Default Leak at joint on rough in valve. HELP!

    I'm finishing my basement. Put in a shower. This was my first time soldering, and like an idiot I decided to make one of my first solders the super expensive rough in valve, instead of starting on some easily replaceable pieces.

    Anyways, when I added water pressure I noticed that at the joint it would slowly pool up and eventually drip - super slow. I discussed this with a friend that said let it sit for a day and the deposits in my water would fill the hole and all would be good. Sure enough the next day there were no drips. Stayed that way for 3 months - no drips. Once I finally got the shower pan put in I wanted to test the lines again with the water turning off an on from the shower head. Once I did this I notice the pooling happening again - faster this time. It would cause a constant drip.

    Did some reading and got some Plumber Epoxy to try to fix it. It didn't fix it. The leak just found its way out between the putty and pipe. So I tried to add some more - leak found another route - and so on and so forth. So now I have a big hard glob of this stuff on my pipe and valve and STILL have a drip.

    I have my drywall finishers on hold right now until I can fix this stupid leak. I really do not want to cut out the whole rough in valve and replace due to time and money.

    Are there options to fix? Can that crap be removed and try something else? Is there a product that actually seals that I can put over it? Any help would be extremely beneficial.

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  2. #2
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Replace the valve
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member Toddjb's Avatar
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    Okay. Thanks. Dang - I was hoping for some magical solution I had not thought of. Found a new one on **** for $35, which isn't terrible. It's the wait and frustration of redoing it what will kill.

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Not sure I understand where the leak is coming from. If it is just a poor solder joint, you can fix that. PITA, but no cost. You would have to disassemble the joint where the leak is and clean the inside of the valve and the pipe. Traces of old solder are OK to leave, but the copper needs to shine like a new penny. Make certain the is NO water in the pipes leading to the valve, the resolder. Do not attempt just to add more solder to the existing joint. Once water has gotten into the joint, it can not be repaired that way.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member Toddjb's Avatar
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    Hi Gary,

    The leak is at the joint. Under all the epoxy crap. I'm not sure I would be able to get all that stuff off, but if I did. How do you disassemble the joint? Just by heating it up again?

  6. #6
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Yep. You heat the joints and pull/twist them apart one at a time. No quick/easy way to redo a bad joint. Emery cloth works well to clean pipe ends, but for the insides of the fitting, you would want a wire brush. I have no idea how that epoxy will come off. It might be easier just to bite the bullet and buy a new valve, but I'd sure try to save the valve if possible/practical.

  7. #7
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    You can always pull the valve, remove the cartridge, heat it up and pull the pipe out. Clean it and resolder.
    I don't throw away a new valve body if I have a leak on a solder joint.

    Or brand new rough valves aren't very much either. You already have the trim for it I'm guessing.

  8. #8
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Basic rule on soldering...once a solder joint leaks, it is contaminated, and will not reliably be repaired without taking it apart and redoing it.

    Because you have no freedom to pull it apart, you need to cut it out of there. THen, you can either unsolder the stub in the nearest elbow and replace things in to the cleaned up valve, or use repair couplings (these are couplings without a stop so it will slide anywhere on the pipe, then you slide it back so it is centered over the joint and solder it.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    It appears he has LOTS of freedom for movement so other than breaking the epoxy off, it should unsolder fairly easily.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  10. #10
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Epoxy ain't going to break off. It will have to be ground off which besides the time to do it will probably ruin the valve. It looks like J.B. Weld or similar and that stuff sticks to copper real well.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  11. #11
    Geologist sjsmithjr's Avatar
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    I have no experience removing "plumbers epoxy", but the MSDS for a couple of different brands suggest removal by mechanical means (break, grind, scrape) and/or the use of a solvents (lacquer thinner, paint thinner, alcohol) after hardening. Good luck!
    -Sam Smith
    Licensed Professional Geologist - AL, TN, KY

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member old mike's Avatar
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    Looks like you have a soldered elbow at the valve body and at your connection to the vertical supply line. Use a jigsaw, or alternative, with a metal cutting blade to cut through both the epoxy and pipe. Remove any valve internals and unsolder the elbows at the valve body and verticle pipe connection. Replace with standard elbows and pipe. As someone above said, make sure your solder joints are sound. Beware of toxic fumes when using a torch near the epoxy.

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member dj2's Avatar
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    As was said before: once contaminated, this valve is no good.

    So what are you going to do? fix it, finish the bathroom and wait for the leak? I would never finish a bathroom knowing that the valve is less than 100% perfect.

    Mitigate your losses, do it right once and for all and replace the valve.

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    Just an idea... How dressy is that wall area? If it is a utility room or a closet, maybe you could put an access panel into the drywall.

  15. #15
    DIY Senior Member asktom's Avatar
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    Wire wheel in a drill removes epoxy. Then heat it up, pull it apart, clean it so everything shines and resolder.

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